Promoting Provo's "quality of life" is the focus of Mayor Lewis Billings' proposed budget for the next fiscal year, which includes funding for extra police officers and airport enhancements.

"Provo's tradition of effective public safety is fundamental to the high quality of life Provo residents have come to enjoy," Billings said.Although that lifestyle won't cost more in taxes, the mayor proposes to raise garbage and recreation fees as part of the projected $90 million budget for fiscal 1998-99. The general fund, made up mostly of taxes and fees, totals $29.8 million.

For the first time in 10 years, Provo did not benefit from a marked increase in sales tax revenue. In fact, the administration asked city departments to cut back on some planned expenditures this year to cover the shortfall.

Officials are counting on the Provo Towne Centre mall and The Shops at Riverwoods to bolster sales-tax income next year.

The city's No. 1 priority is public safety, Billings said. Though Provo is the second most populous city in the state, it ranks 12th in the number of violent crimes, according to the Governor's Office of Budget and Planning.

To help keep Provo safe, Billings wants to hire four additional police officers for an eight-member community police team.

A $145,000 grant from the federal government's Universal Hiring Program will cover salaries and equipment in the first year. The grant will be cut back to zero over the following two years at which time Provo can pick up the costs or let the officers go. Provo was in line to receive funding for 17 new officers, but the city can't afford to pay for them long term, said Dave Croff, budget officer.

Provo Municipal Airport is also high on the mayor's priority list. Although it's in line for a $94,000 subsidy from the general fund, Billings wants it to become self sustaining. The Federal Aviation Administration is nearing completion of a $12 million runway extension project at the airport. Within 11 months, the airport's runway will be the fourth longest in the state and able to handle large aircraft.

Billings said the enhancement will allow corporate jets to operate from the airport. City officials also have talked to commercial airlines about flying out of Provo.

Despite the improvements proposed for the city, the tentative budget contains no tax increase. In fact, the budget proposal is $4.3 million less than the current fiscal year figure.

Nevertheless, the mayor is calling for fee increases.

Billings proposes to raise for the first time since 1981 fees for recreational sports such as soccer and softball an average of 10 percent. The fees vary per program. The Parks and Recreation Department also will charge more at the Veterans Swimming Pool and the Provo Recreation Center. Those costs differ depending on the activity but will go up an average of 30 percent, Croff said.

User fees for garbage collection services would go up 50 cents to $10 per month per can under the proposal. The increase will cover higher tipping fees at the South Utah Valley Solid Waste District, Billings said.

Other budget items include: $8.6 million for street and sidewalk maintenance (no increase from the current budget); $200,000 to help the library maintain its current level of service; and $40,000 for the ad hoc committee to coordinate the Provo's sesquicentennial celebration.

Following public hearings on May 19 and June 2, the City Council will adopt a final budget, which goes into effect July 1.

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Additional Information

Budget - Provo

General fund: $29.8 million

1997-98

General fund $28.6 million

1996-97

Where it comes from:

Property tax: $ 3.2 million

Last year: $ 3.1 million

Sales tax: $11.3 million

Last year: $10.3 million

Franchise tax: $ 4.7 million

Last year: $ 4.3 million

Vehicle fees $541,470

Last year: $693,489

Parks & recreation $935,626

Last year: $693,489

Community dev. $ 1.3 million

Last year: $ 1.6 million

Where it goes:

Police $ 9.1 million

Last year: $ 8.5 million

Public services $ 1.22 million

Last year: $ 1.27 million

Fire $ 5.8 million

Last year: $ 5.5 million

Community dev. $ 1.7 million

Last year: $ 1.6 million

Municipal council $592,841

Last year: $568,617

Mayor's office $513,274

Last year: $515,469

Economic dev. $418,586

Last year $335,027

Tax/fee increases: 50 cents per month for garbage collection; average 10 percent increase inrecreation programs; average 30 percent increase at Veterals Pool and Provo Recreation Center